Triceracopter at University of Cincinnati Library
Ohio Life

‘Triceracopter’ and ‘Self-Portrait’

Patricia Renick’s artistic legacy resides in the University of Cincinnati’s Walter C. Langsam Library.

It has the body of a military chopper, the legs of a dinosaur and a home on the fourth floor of the University of Cincinnati’s Walter C. Langsam Library. Artist Patricia Renick created “Triceracopter: The Hope for the Obsolescence of War” more than 30 years ago, but its message still resonates today. 

The sculpture’s skeleton is a retired Vietnam War-era helicopter built up with molded wood, clay and fiberglass. Although her message was serious, the late Renick delivered it with her characteristic whimsy, according to Owen Findsen, retired art critic for the Cincinnati Enquirer and one of the artist’s friends.  

“She was just very playful in her work, and very humorous,” says Findsen, who remembers Renick not only for her sculpture but for her 40-year teaching legacy at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, as well as her presence in the community. At times, Renick even involved her neighbors in her projects. When she needed soldering help while working on “Triceracopter,” she ran next door. 

“Her studio was near a steel fabricating plant,” says Findsen. “She would just sort of walk down and walk into the place and come up to some of the workers and say, ‘Could you come over and help me with this?’ ” 

The finished piece — the legs of which were twice the artist’s petite size — was initially displayed at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center before returning to Renick’s studio in 1978. Although Renick once suggested her monumental work be buried upon her death, friends rallied to restore “Triceracopter” and return it to public display in 2011.  

“Triceracopter” is joined at the library by a second piece of art: “Self-Portrait: She Became What She Beheld,” a body cast of Renick sitting on a chair, clad in her work clothes and holding a model of her “Triceracopter” creation. In line with the work’s title, the artist’s head is replaced with a depiction of the sculpture’s metal face.

2911 Woodside Dr., Cincinnati 45221, 513/556-1424, libraries.uc.edu

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